Valencia CF Is A Sinking Ship That Looks Destined For The Bottom
Just when you thought Valencia’s situation couldn’t get any worse, another manager leaves the club. Last Thursday, Cesare Prandelli surprised the Valencia board and fan base by resigning just three months after taking over the team.
Prandelli now becomes Valencia’s eighth head coaching change since Unai Emery left the club in 2012. The Italian leaves Los Che in 17th place in the league table on 12 points and with the lasting memory of his famous “fuori!” (Out!) press conference where he demanded that any player not willing to do what he demanded head for the exit.
Salvador Gonzalez Marco, commonly known as Voro, will once again take over as caretaker until the end of the season — his fifth time in the role. Voro hasn’t gotten off on the right foot after getting hammered at the Mestella by Celta Vigo in the first leg of the Copa del Rey, 4-1.
Valencia have played 18 games across all competitions this season, they haven’t kept a single clean sheet.
Shocking defence. pic.twitter.com/zUVdlECbj0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 3, 2017
It was a project that started with so much promise when the club was sold to Singapore businessman Peter Lim in 2014. He was able to save Valencia from bankruptcy and the team was able to qualify for the 2015-2016 edition of the Champions League.
Sadly, the team has now gone from playing in Europe's most elite tournament to fearing the drop to the second division. Where did it all go wrong? Most experts would probably give several reasons to explain this, but Valencia’s crisis can be explained with a focus on three separate things.
Will Peter Lim leave Valencia?
— MARCA in English (@MARCAinENGLISH) January 5, 2017
Like any company, it all starts at the top. When the people running the club are off, the whole organization will not be able to function properly. From the beginning, it was said that Lim wanted to turn Valencia into the Spanish powerhouse of old. However, since qualifying for the Champions League, the club has become more of a feeder team for other top European sides. In fact, since 2014, every valuable player the team’s had has left once a big offer has come in.
- 2014: Jeremy Mathieu - Barcelona
- 2014: Juan Bernat - Bayern Munich
- 2015: Nicolas Otamendi - Manchester City
- 2016: Andre Gomes - Barcelona
- 2016: Shkodran Mustafi - Arsenal
- 2016: Paco Alcacer - Barcelona
The club’s sporting direction has been absolutely ridiculous. Many have accused Lim of being too close with Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes and allowing the club to sign several of his clients. Valencia’s poor management on the field can clearly be seen with the coaching selections, Gary Neville serving as the prime example.
The Peter Lim era began with Nuno Espirito Santo, a coach who was not well known in Europe and had only coached Rio Ave in Portugal, but ironically had Mendes as his agent. Despite all this, Valencia did finish fourth and qualified for the Champion League in his first season.
After his sacking following a poor run of results early in the 2015-2016 season, Valencia decideded to hire former Manchester United great Gary Neville; also a business partner of Peter Lim.
That’s probably where all football fans realized this project was going nowhere. A legendary player in his day, Neville’s only managerial experience was being the assistant coach to Roy Hodgson on the English national team.
Along with this, he had never played or coached in Spain and didn’t even speak Spanish. As expected, that experiment went horribly wrong and Neville was sacked. Neville’s assistant, Pako Ayestaran, then took over and managed to stabilize the ship until the end of the season. That summer, instead of turning to a more experienced manager, the club decided to continue putting their faith in Ayestaran.
After four straight defeats to open the current season, Ayestaran joined Lim’s list of sacked coaches. Then Valencia decided to hire former Italian national team coach Prandelli. An experienced manager but a risky one as Prandelli had not coached since 2014 when he lasted just four months with Galatasaray. At least this time it was the manager who decided to step down.
This inconsistency has angered the fan base and has left the entire community wondering what exactly Lim has in mind for Valencia CF. All we can say is if the ownership and directors don’t get things sorted out, the second division may actually be a reality for Valencia. Unfortunately, Lim is just one in a long line of problematic owners the club has encountered over the past 15 years.
Valencia’s Fan Base
We’re not going to say that Valencia’s fans are the worst in the world, but they aren’t the most patient either. Some people may say that this is only a recent development because of the club’s current situation, but they’d be wrong.
Valencia fans in general have been like that for quite some time. In fact, many consider them to be the most impatient fans in Spain. Valencia’s fan base was like this even in the early 2000s, when the club was actually competing in La Liga and Europe. Despite all this, almost every Valencia manager since the start of the millennium has faced the famous chant of the Mestalla: Vete Ya! (Leave Now!) For example:
- Hector Cuper: Took Valencia to two straight Champions League finals, but he wasn’t well liked for his boring style of play.
- Rafa Benitez: He is considered one of Valencia’s greatest managers, but it wasn’t always so rosy for Benitez. If fact, if a few results hadn’t gone his way early on in his tenure, Valencia probably wouldn’t have had the success they achieved under Benitez.
- Quique Sánchez Flores: Under Quique, Valencia were challengers for La Liga and even went far in the Champions League. However, his style was considered boring by the fans and the tension reached its boiling point after a bad start to the 2007-2008 season. Quique eventually got the axe, but many fans were wishing for his return months later after the team began fighting to avoid relegation under Ronald Koeman. Ironically, it was under Koeman that Valencia won its last piece of silverware, the Copa del Rey.
- Unai Emery: He spent four seasons at Valencia, but many fans felt they would drop too many easy points and couldn’t compete with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao. Regardless, Valencia finished third in La Liga in three of Emery’s four seasons.
- Nuno Espirito Santo: As previously mentioned, he was not well known before his arrival, but Valencia did qualify for the Champions League in his first season and the fans looked fully united. Unfortunately, that mood changed rapidly over the summer when Otamendi was sold and it was discovered that many of the signings were represented by Nuno’s agent, Jorge Mendes. Along with a bad start to the following campaign, and a fallout with striker Alvaro Negredo, Nuno faced the famous “Vete Ya!” chants and was eventually sacked before Christmas.
- Not even former players Mauricio Pellegrino (2012) and Miroslav Dukic (2014) were able to escape the high expectations of the Valencia fan base. Not just that, neither one of them even made it to the holiday period.
It’s normal for fans to be demanding, but there is a difference between being demanding and unrealistic. Valencia fans want the club to compete with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, but they don’t realize or can’t accept the fact that Valencia doesn’t have the players, coaches nor the funds to compete regularly for La Liga and the Champions League.